When was the last time you saw a game actually won or lost because of play calling?
Most famously there was Super Bowl XLIX when Pete Carroll decided on 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 26 seconds to play to throw the ball instead of handing it to Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson was picked off by Malcolm Butler, sealing the Pats' win.
The play call was a huge mistake, but it was six seasons ago and truly a rare event.
Clearly some play callers are more effective than others, but rarely in the NFL is the guy calling the plays the reason an offense sinks or swims.
For all of the moaning and wailing from media and fans alike about Bears head coach Matt Nagy’s play calling recently, I have yet to hear a single soul actually qualified to call plays in the NFL suggest that’s been the problem with the Bears offense.
The Bears offense stinks right now because its quarterbacks and offensive linemen haven’t been able to execute the plays Nagy has called.
Nonetheless the way Bears fans celebrated Friday when Nagy informed us he’s decided to hand over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor you’d have thought the team had just traded for Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
According to Nagy, “You all know it's very, very important for me to make sure that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to make the best decision for the Chicago Bears, and I think right now where we're at it allows me to really look at all three phases from the head coaching position, you know, and focus on that.”
To be clear while I don’t expect the plays Lazor calls are going to make much of a difference, I have been calling for this switch for weeks now.
Reason one is as Nagy stated, it appears he has been so busy being his own coordinator and play caller he hasn’t been able to focus on the head coach’s job, particularly when it comes to clock and game management.
Reason two is the message it sends to his locker room, ‘Hey guys, I’ll bench myself too if I’m not getting the job done so get your butts in gear.’
Reason three is don’t believe it for a minute when players and coaches tell you they don’t read or listen to what we all are saying and this move eliminates a huge distraction for everybody.
I did find it interesting though that on three different occasions I recall when we’ve talked about this possibility over the last season and a half or so, Nagy had told us even if he did make a change he wouldn’t tell us.
I asked him why the change of heart?
“It’s nothing personal toward anyone outside of this organization or anything like that, but after you start thinking about it, you start talking about it, I think it just makes most sense to go ahead and just explain the why part," he said. “There’s no questions, there’s no concerns, it is what it is and now we just go ahead and move forward. That would probably be the best answer I could give you for that.”
And a fine answer it is but is it the whole answer?
I don’t believe for a second Nagy is making this move in a bow to public pressure.
I think he is doing it to try and make himself a better head coach, and to see if he can benefit the offense more as an advisor with a much clearer view of the big picture, and I believe he is doing it to try and spark, motivate and send a very clear message to his players – no one and no thing is safe if we don’t start moving the football.
But there is no denying the hidden benefit.
If it works everyone is happy, but if it doesn’t maybe we’ll stop focusing on the play calling/coaching and shine a light on the lack of offensive talent.
The move feels like a win-win for Nagy no matter how it works out, and I can’t imagine that’s completely lost on him, leaving me still a but puzzled as to why it’s taken him so long to make it.